I think this is one of the most important skills anyone can possess, programmer or not. I’m 34 and I’m only just beginning to understand why I have gone through my life as bit of a Cassandra. I’ve watched, frustrated, as I’ve told those sitting next to me about the mistakes being made all around me, about product ideas that then come successfully to market years later, and I have often suspected that the problem is actually me.
I came from a working class British family so I’ve been brought up dis-empowered. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, he talks about a study between working and middle class parenting and concludes simply that middle-class parents endow their offspring with the feeling of entitlement, of power and equality and the belief that they are masters of their own universe.
While in a book store on holiday, I randomly bought a book that I’d normally never look at. It was cheap and appeared to be an easy, friendly read. It’s called “Life’s a Pitch” and although it deals with putting together a compelling sales pitch/presentation, it also talks about how the same principles apply across your entire life.
I’m very glad you thought to write about this, Jeff, it’s a remarkably important trait, arguably more so than technical skills. If you have a great idea and can persuade someone to lend you money, then you can persuade great technical people to build it, then persuade people to buy it.
If I could buy just a single personality trait, the power of persuasion would be it.